Why do female journalists who have babies feel compelled to tell the world about it? What makes formerly sensible people like Miranda Sawyer use their children as editorial assets? Writing in the Observer (which has become an embodiment of the personal as editorial) she tells the world that since having a child she has reconsidered her views on the sanctity of life. Previously she took the stock feminist pro-abortion line, which was neatly complemented by the stock rationalist secularist liberal line on the “right to die”. I have previously commissioned work from Miranda and enjoy her radio reviews and music journalism but how does having a bairn make you an authority on ethical issues? Having a child is a world-altering moment for anyone and should rightly be celebrated but should it really
be used as a platform to claim moral weight or human insight? Perhaps it doesn’t really matter – why shouldn’t people use their own experiences to comment on big ideas and difficult topics? If it annoys me so much then I should have followed my usual rule of turning the page whenever I see a woman writer open an article with “as a new mother”.
But there is a point of principle here. I think that journalists who want to be taken seriously do have to be careful to separate out their own lives from their subject matter. At least they should try.
And as a New Man I object to feminists who claim that everyone else should be fair and objective while they are allowed to privilege their own personal experience. I think that journalists have a responsibility which comes with their ability to air their views. And for intelligent female journalists I think that includes not exploiting their own personal lives for editorial gain. Does Miranda somehow think that women (or men ) without children have less of a right to a view on the issue of abortion?
“Writing in the Observer (which has become an embodiment of the personal as editorial)…”
Hear hear. So much of the current writing in the Observer is unbearable.
I was interested/disturbed by this part of her story:
“Other philosophers argue that abortion is OK, and that infanticide is fine too, because foetuses and little children aren’t fully human: they can’t look after themselves and they have no concept of death.”
There two philosophical arguments here—abortion and infanticide—the reporter treats them as a single concern.
I’d like to know which philosophers say that infanticide is ok—she didn’t say. And … “little children aren’t fully human”? I think she forgot that she wasn’t having a private chat laced with platitudes by the water cooler. Life, death and morality—it’s morally wrong to kill an infant (not to mention that our *laws* reflect same).
I think that if journalists want to start a conversation about this stuff then they have a responsibility to get the facts and the explanation of the facts right—especially in subject matter such as this.
In this instance I also think the use of the reporter’s private life as a benchmark and a launching pad for this conversation presented a very narrow point of view. Everything about her life is like nothing about millions of other lives. Her (world?) views (here) and *choices* clearly stem from her current comfortable and uncomplicated situation. In her role as a reporter I argue that she needs to think and present content beyond her own comfort zone and interests.